Disappointment, frustration and calls for collective unity
Criminal barristers have taken to Twitter to share their thoughts and feelings in the wake of their narrow decision to accept the government’s pay deal on legal aid.
Justice Secretary Brandon Lewis has described the result as a “breakthrough” which he put down to both the government and criminal barristers “coming together and restarting what I hope to be a constructive relationship as we work to drive down the backlog and ensure victims see justice done sooner”.
The acceptance of the government’s offer is an early boost for Lewis who was appointed Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice at the beginning of September. However, political pressure will now be mounting on the government concerning other strikes by public sector workers.
In the lead-up to the vote, several barristers who were opposed to the government’s deal voiced their criticisms on Twitter. Amongst those who have gone public saying they voted the deal down were the Secret Barrister and Chris Daw KC who both have a large following on social media.
Several barristers shared their strong and raw emotions at this morning’s result which saw 57% of those who voted accept the deal.
Monday 10th October
the day the Bar died
— Khadim Al'Hassan (@KhadimAlHassan) October 10, 2022
I feel so broken. And let down. And hurt.
— Kate Riekstina (@kriekstina) October 10, 2022
Many have indicated that this result does not necessarily mark the end of the government’s troubles.
I did NOT vote to accept the MOJ’s offer
I will of course honour the result & I will not criticise any who voted for it
But I do NOT consider myself bound by the commitment to assist in reducing the backlog. I do not accept ANY term that comes without definition or description https://t.co/eZ3Ikp0F3s
— Tony Kent (@TonyKent_Writes) October 10, 2022
Criminal barristers are returning to court, but HMG can be under no illusion that this is a **conditional suspension**
There is still strength + unity at the bar. Juniors' (and Seniors) voices have been heard. We will put HMG to task ensuring the banked promises materialise.
— Anoushka Twining (@anoushkatwining) October 10, 2022
The acceptance of the government’s deal shows that @TheCriminalBar want to work to sort the crisis in the justice system. The hard work of all the leadership in getting a deal on the table can’t be underestimated. BUT… 1/2
— James Oliveira-Agnew (@moodybarrister) October 10, 2022
— Max Hardy (@MaxJLHardy) October 10, 2022
Others have focused their comments more on attempting to encourage unity following the divisive vote.
Sad result today man but more power to all my colleagues at the criminal bar that fought this out. Despite picket line being abruptly brought to a halt our pressure allowed for atleast this deal to come about. #criminalbar
— Duchess of Brixton🇯🇲🇳🇬 (@fufuisonme) October 10, 2022
Well, there we are. The votes have been counted and “Yes” has a clear majority. Some people are doubtless happy, some relieved and some angry. I certainly have been surprised at the behaviour of some people; what matters now is that we look out for each other, especially
— Bernard Richmond 💙🇺🇦 (@phatsilk_qc) October 10, 2022
So, for now, it’s time to put the wigs back on.
Be kind to yourselves. The backlog is long. The pressure high. Your time is, still, finite.
I’ll remember this summer for the courage my profession found to try to make our courts a better, fairer place than when we arrived ❤️
— Joanna Hardy-Susskind (@Joanna__Hardy) October 10, 2022
Barristers have voted 57% / 43% to accept the government's offer and to suspend strike action.
We must unite once again to push for a better deal for the most junior criminal barristers.
Many will still be in an unsustainable financial position, despite the increase in fees.
— Chris Daw KC (@crimlawuk) October 10, 2022